PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        October 26, 2013


Home Boxers Fights Arenas Non-Boxers Gyms Relics More About Contact


by John DiSanto
Photos by Ray Bailey


Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins won a wide-margin unanimous decision over Karo Murat in  defense of his IBF light heavyweight championship at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall Saturday night. The fight was a rather entertaining tussle, thanks to Murat's face-first pressing style and Hopkins' desire to score his first knockout in nine years.

The knockout never came, but Murat fought hard and forced the 48 year old legend to fight for 12 full rounds. However, the German import was in an all together different class than Hopkins, and was hard-pressed to win a round. Nonetheless, the pair of 175-pounders scrapped from round one to twelve.

Hopkins entered the ring in a full alien get up, complete with a Martian mask iridescent green high collar and trim. The crowd loved the corny theatrics and genuinely cheered Hopkins on to victory, once the real show began. It  was clear that the large-ish crowd was thrilled to see the boxing legend in the flesh, knowing that it might be one of the last opportunities to do so. Or was it? 

Hopkins once again dominated a much younger foe in the ring, and showed that he has plenty of gas left in his tank. Murat was 18 years younger, and although he managed to press Bernard and force him to fight far more than in his other recent bouts, Hopkins responded brilliantly and out-fought the pesky challenger all night long.

Each round was almost a carbon copy of the one before it, with the pattern of Hopkins jabbing and teeing off on a charging Murat repeating over, and over again. Murat launched large looping shots and tried to out muscle the champion, but Hopkins was too smart and too skilled for the crude slugger.

Referee Steve Smoger penalized Murat one point in round seven for hitting on the break, just one of the rough-house tactics used by the challenger in an attempt to gain some momentum. It was good to see a Hopkins opponent not acting in a deferential manner toward the legend. Unlike many of Hopkins' latest victims, Marat did not lose his desire to fight after a few tough rounds. Unfortunately for Marat, however, the result was the same. A clear-cut loss. 

As the rounds rolled by, Hopkins became more aggressive and took chances that we haven't seen from him in ages. Clearly he wanted a shortened victory that would validate his claims that his longevity can only be explained by the fact that he is from another planet.

Hopkins cut, but could not drop or stop Marat in the bout. It was a one-sided victory, as reflected in the official scores. Judges Julie Lederman and Joe Pasquale gave Hopkins eleven rounds, with 119-108 scores. Benoit Roussel credited Bernard with nine rounds, turning in a 117-110 scorecard. My tally was 120-107 for Hopkins, 54-6-2, 32 KOs. Murat lost for the second time in his career, 25-2-1, 15 KOs.

Even without the knockout, ringside and TV observers were still pondering the secret to Bernard's extended prime in the ring. He may not be a real alien, but he is a one of a kind boxing talent who is truly out of this world.

In another televised bout, heavyweight buzz machine Deontay Wilder improved his perfect record with a sloppy fourth round KO of Nicolai Firtha in their scheduled ten rounder. Deontay scored his 30th straight knockout to keep his on-paper reputation intact. However anyone who saw the fight, came away with serious questions about whether or not Wilder is the real deal.

Wilder won the fight, scoring two first round knockdowns and a picturesque finisher in round four, but the touted prospect wobbled when hit and seemed to struggle to land his own haymakers. It was a win, but this was no coming out party.

The fight was halted by referee Lindsey Page at 1:26 of the fourth when a perfect right hand finally finished the game Firtha, 21-11-1, 8 KOs. Wilder moved on with his good-looking 30-0, 30 KO record, but his future prospects are in doubt.






John DiSanto - Atlantic City - October 26, 2013
Photos by Ray Bailey